Bulls**t Jobs

Quality Engineer

Broken Ladder

A reader in Virginia writes:

Get paid to post "Quality First" stickers in manufacturing plants all day, espouse how Quality really saves instead of costing money, and write procedures that no one cares about or follows.  Then get yelled at when something goes wrong and customers are unhappy.

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Above all else, you take the fall anytime the product does not meet expectations. Regardless of your power to make the employees follow instructions and guidlines.

As a person who has done quality mgmt successfully, it obvious why this writer is unsuccessful – attitude; Must put systems in place and then share positive attitude for success. Job is not BS, but person might not be right for it.

You are absolutely correct, I have been doing this and unfortunately it is hard to change the culture and get people to follow the correct process that would eliminate flaws of a product or service.

If you do it right you are coming up with projects to reduce Service Calls, customer defects, and scrap within the plant. No this is not a BS job because there is savings that come with doing the job.

It's much better to catch problems *before* a product get's shipped. Although QA or QE's are total overhead, the cost of bad product/bad publicity is much greater.

I think it's safe to say there's a variety of Quality Engineers. I can only speak for my job in defense contracting, and it's definitely NOT a BS job. I guess it just depends where you work, and if you have an "educated idiot" for your boss! Fortunately, I don't...

MOst of the "quality" engineers I know don't deserve the title "Engineer".

This job used to be very important. As a retired QE, this degredation of the job started before I retired. Marketing and manufacturing believed they could make more money if they pulled the "teeth" of quality. It is sad that closet "Quality haters" who don't truly understand the quality function now run the asylum.

I work in the Medical Device industry as a R&D Engineer and I can tell you that in my industry Quality Engineers are crucial and it’s not a BS job. I count on them for helping me implement Six Sigma initiatives, statistical analysis, and perform Risk Analysis and scrutinize the integrity of my designs. Done correctly, Quality Engineers are the voice of the customer and help save lives in my industry.

Our QM does the first three things but never takes the blame for anything that gets out the door. He makes sure nothing is ever his fault. He's really very good at it.

I guess this really highlights the differences between companies. I am a quality engineer and cannot express enough how vital my role is to the company I work for. I interact daily with all parts of the industry from subcontractor factories, to end customers, and everything in between, and my inputs are both required and needed to ensure that we are building quality into our products and meeting customer needs.

This is very critical function. In my organization, Quality Engineers implement effective processes and found severe defects which saved the firm from huge monetary and reputation loss.

If this is what management is using its resources to do as QEs, I would consider finding another company. I work for a medical device company. The public should be very happy that QEs are an integral part of what makes medical devices safe.

depends on what we mean by Quality. There is value in making sure that products made correctly, and with little, waste just ask Toyota. Quality become pure B.S. when it moves beyond that goal to the goal of producing well documented buearcracies like ISO 9000.

The label "engineer" hardly applies. These people just push paper and add enormous expense to the cost of doing business.

its a shame this person isn't used better, such as reviewing the causes of scrap or rework, which costs money, instead of making it right the first time. Or monitoring poor quality from suppliers. or conduct a Gage R & R study to see if measurements are proper, or an SPC capability study to see if equipment can make product at a more acceptable rate. and on and on

It does depend on the company and the senior management. I work hard, very hard and it is rarely recognized. The old saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" applies. We lead and lead with no guarantee the horses will drink. Those of you who are appreciated and your worth is known have a dream job!

I have worked for companies like the first mentioned, where quality gets only lip service. Not a nice place to be a QE, all you get is the heat from the customers, and nothing to give back to them.

The QE should be at the forefront of keeping the customer satisfied, by reviewing and improving processes that ensure that parts or services produced actually meet the customer's expectations.

Anything other than that only shows that management does not really support the customer.

If you think this is a BS job just ask the people at Blackberry (bad software update) or Turbo Tax (system outage due to load on tax day) who didn't have a QE to keep their systems from going down. If you don't test the quality of your software it's just going to cost your more down the road.

Toyota and Honda are shining examples of what quality engineers can accomplish if the senior leadership of a corporation "gets it". Ford and GM are examples of corporations that don't get it, where quality engineering is just another board room fad and the job is a bulls**t job.

I think quality engineers should be given more authority and be able to penalize those employees who do not follow guide lines and procedures.

Okay - this one is the God's honest truth. We had one of these quality experts come around and hand us all these nice little cards with "ZERO DEFECTS" written down the side and nice little catch phrases attached to each letter - you know the type. Anyway, "DEFECTS" was misspelled... That ended that.

Many jobs fall under the QE umbrella. The ones I consider pure BS revolve around ISO or Six Sigma compliance and match the spirit of what "A reader in Virginia" submitted. Then there are QEs that are an integral part of product life cycle development, whether it be manufacturing or R&D. The latter is definitely not BS, and cutting corners in this area has a significant impact on the viability of the business.

Of course this is a real job. I've had this one. In fact, I think all engineers have, in some incarnation! This is what Dilbert is all about.

Being a QE myself, I can state that the job isn't a BS one (except maybe for the long hours and lack of OT pay). In my OPINION it is the USA business community, their Management Teams and especially the bean counters are full of Bulls**t with their Operational Business Philosophy that the Quality Department is a unnecessary financial burden. Businesses must move beyond trying to inspect quality into their products and stop blaming the Quality Department for failures when sh*tty product and manufacturing designs from rejects. And we wonder why foreign companies are kicking our @sses of quality and pricing.

I worked in a manufacturing plant and we had a safety manager. He would type up memos and hang "Safety First" signs all around the plant. Yeah, safety first unless it slows down production.

Quality engineers are not engineers -- they're the clueless people who push paper and file documents for a living. Most QA's can't think their way out of a paper bag, and instead spew mindless repetitions of FDA, FAA, USDA, blah, blah regulations.

If you're writing procedures nobody cares about, you must be working for an ISO/TS certified company, ha, ha. (Just kidding Ms. auditor!) By the way, if you're getting yelled at because the customer is unhappy, you're doing something wrong. Don't you know thateverything is production's fault? Get with the program!

If they took the money used to pay kwality kontrol engineers and used it to pay the real engineers more, they wouldn't need kwality kontrol.

In my company, QE's don't do anything. They are not responsible for the quality of the product. All they do is generate reports on returns but the design engineers do all the analysis. At prior companies I have worked for, the QE's were some of the best and brightest people we had. It TOTALLY depends on the company and how they utilize the QE's.

Most employees want to do a good job. The key to noncompliance is simple "what you pay attention to they pay attention to". Your job is to create the right tools to help them succeed and make training fun using creative methods and follow up. I love my job!

Tragically we live in a culture (US) where organizations and their share holders don't have the attention span or patience to focus on eliminating errors and waste in the work and product we produce. We continue to look for the easy path rather than trying to understand why things happen. Much like the boiling frog experiment and global warming dilemma we now face, as we thrash around latching on to the next "silver bullet" we don't recognize the depths of our problems until the situation becomes critical. It is our personality as American, our impatience and need for instant gratification that makes quality management such an unappealing alternative and destines us to repeat the same mistakes over and over again while other countries eat our economic and political lunch.

QE is only as good as as an organization makes it. If you don't believe in it then it is absolutely overhead with no results. If you believe in it and use it properly, you will be the best at what you do. Those who don't believe are either losers or working in a loser organization.

From my experience, ISO is meaningless if your company thinks of it primarily as marketing. A minimalist approach to compliance is the result, and therefore it has little effect on actual quality. Of course, quality itself is hugely important if you want repeat sales or reduced waste. If people care about that, several different systems like ISO or 6Sigma will work just fine.

Quality Engineers are inspecting parts to make sure they are in compliance with safety and tolerance specs. The job you describe sounds like a manager.

I am a Certified Quality Engineer with a Biochemistry degree and an MBA. I am also a certified auditor. I have spent years obtaining my degrees and am proud of my job. I have a lot more responsibilities for my products than you would ever imagine. So screw you all about the QE job being BS. Those of you who think so probably wouldn't have a clue how to pass the CQE.

Having had that task before after my predecessor allowed a bad part to get through and mangle a co-worker, I can say that, if done properly for a company that cares about its product, its employees, and its customers, it can be a very important job. All I ask is what company you work for-I want to make sure I NEVER buy anything from them.

The fact that Quality Engineer is on this list, along with some of the uneducated opinions previously expressed cleary explains why the Big 3 are going downhill and more jobs are being moved overseas.

Dustin Daggett
Quality Manager

Quality Engineers rule! I love to be a QE. It got me off of the shop floor!